Defense witness in 'Serial' murder case claims prosecutor convinced her to avoid trial


A key witness in the murder trial that made nationwide news while the subject of a hugely-popular podcast claims the prosecution convinced her to stay away from the trial despite having an alibi for the accused killer.

Asia McClain wrote in a new affidavit that she was with convicted murderer Adnan Syed during the time prosecutors claim he fatally strangled Hae Min Lee in 1999. McClain also alleges that authorities pressured her to stay away from court proceedings.

The documents, filed January 13, 2015, call into question several aspects of the state's case against Syed. They were first reported by The Blaze but have also been reviewed by AOL News.

Syed's murder trial, and the possibility he is innocent, were profiled by the 12-episode podcast "Serial," which may result in him being granted an appeal.

Lee was strangled to death in 1999 in the minutes after school, between 2:20 and 2:40, according to the coroner's report. McClain claims she spoke to Syed in the school library during that time.

"At around 2:30 p.m., I saw Adnan Syed enter the library. Syed and I had a conversation," McClain wrote in the affidavit. "We had a conversation about his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee and he seemed extremely calm and caring.

"He explained that he wanted her to be happy and that he had no ill will towards her."

McClain recalls leaving the library at 2:40 p.m., Syed was still there -- a key assertion in light of the state determining that Lee died at about 2:36 p.m.

The now-33-year-old woman famously wrote the jailed teen two letters insisting she be allowed to speak to his lawyer in the months before his trial commenced.

She never heard from Syed's lawyer, who was disbarred for misconduct only two years later, and then was rebuffed when she contacted state prosecutor Kevin Urick.

"Urick discussed the evidence of the case in a manner that seemed designed to get me to think Syed was guilty and that I should not bother participating in the case," McClain writes in the filing.

"Urick convinced me into believing that I should not participate in any ongoing proceedings."

McClain says speaking with "Serial" presenter Sarah Koenig, an NPR reporter, made her realize the importance of her alibi for Syed and spurred her decision to come forward.

Urick refuted her claims in comments to The Blaze, alling them "absolutely false."

"I was not the one that brought up anything about evidence," he insisted. "She asked me, was it a strong case? I said 'yes." That was about the extent of my response."

Urick further claimed in comments to the site that McClain told him she wrote the letters "to get [Syed's] family off her back, which can be interpreted that she was getting pressure."

The state of Maryland has yet to decide on Syed's latest appeal.

'Serial' Case to Be Reviewed by Maryland Appeals Court
'Serial' Case to Be Reviewed by Maryland Appeals Court